Saturday, 31 March 2012

Maryhill Locks Could Drive Community Leadership

Norman Armstrong of Free Wheel North describes how the Maryhill Locks development could be used to drive community leadership.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Glasgow Won't Be Fooled, On Sun 1st April, 3:30pm-5pm, @Quakers Friends Meeting Ho.

Glasgow Won't Be Fooled

On Sunday the 1st of April, from 3:30pm-5:00pm community groups will be coming together at the Quakers Friends Meeting House to send the message that at this election, Glasgow Won't Be Fooled.

We are a coalition of community groups and community leaders who want to hold the political parties to account in the coming council elections. We believe there is an accountability gap in Glasgow, with too many decisions being taken without the full involvement of local people.

This is your chance to make the council sit up and pay attention to issues in your area.

What is wrong in Glasgow?
In 2009, Glasgow City Council made the outlandish claim that children learn better in class sizes over 35! Despite widespread community opposition the council continued to close schools, with very little criticism in the Evening Times or the tabloid newspapers. The City Council brushed aside communities without negotiation, showing that there is a lack of basic accountability in our city. This is just one example of the problem - our communities are regularly damaged by the accountability gap.

How did this happen?
The council has been controlled by one party for forty years. Glasgow does not have a strong, independent voice on local issues that brings together neighbourhood groups across the city. There has been no federation of tenants and residents associations for a decade.

Neighbourhood campaigners active in green issues have often lacked links to those working on housing problems, just as those working to strengthen local democracy have tended to be unaware of housing campaigners, or as workplace organisations have lacked communication with neighbourhood groups. The council has an accountability gap because we the people are not networked and organised enough to hold the Council to account.

What can we do about it?
The accountability gap will not solve itself after the election - the gap is not just down to political parties. Many bad decisions are made by officials amidst a culture of high-handedness at City Chambers. This culture must be challenged by organised communities and neighbourhood groups bringing pressure to bear on the council. Otherwise, council officials will still pay lip-service to engagement. It is the role of community leaders and campaigners, not political parties, to ensure that communities are organised to assert themselves.

Why is this important now?
For the first time in a generation, control of the council is uncertain ahead of the election. This gives communities an unprecedented opportunity to ensure that their voice is heard. Community leaders from across Glasgow are coming together to take action to use this opportunity.

How can we use this historic opportunity?
On Sunday the 1st of April, at 3:30pm-5:00pm community leaders will be coming together at the Quakers Friends Meeting House, on Elmbank Crescent to discuss and decide upon how best to use this opportunity. Our different goals for our communities are being brought together so that we can present a united voice in local hustings around the city. Community leaders concerned about the state of housing, sustainability and fuel poverty, jobs and the economy, and local democracy and accountability will be speaking to other leaders from across Glasgow.

If you care about local issues affecting your community then this is the perfect chance to turn your voice into a loudhailer heard across the city. Places are limited, and while the event is free, the meeting is ticketed to ensure all are catered for - so make sure to book early! We have to take this opportunity to build a non-party political voice, using this once-in-a-lifetime chance for communities to take greater ownership over their own neighbourhoods.